Home-made sushi

After making some rolls for myself and M night before last, I had a LOT of ingredients left, so we descended on friends L and J last night, bearing sushi ingredients, and made a whole mess of rolls.

Everything turned out good. The rice was not 100% done enough, but the difference here was subtle. Now I REALLY want to have an actual sushi party with lots more people and share the joy :)

Here’s the details if you are interested.

Sushi rice

There are quite a few recipes for sushi rice on the web, find one and use that for ingredients and proportions. We used 3 cups rice, 5 cups water, in rice cooker, use short- or medium-grain rice if available, but this is not critical. Make steamed rice as normal, turn off when done.

Combine 1/8 cup of rice vinegar for each 1 cup of dry rice (in our case 3/8 cup). Add sugar and salt to vinegar, then add vinegar to rice while mixing in a large non-metal bowl. (I just got “seasoned” rice vinegar which already includes sugar and salt). Mix vinegar into rice using a cutting motion (kind of like folding only you want to break up the rice instead of compressing it. Cool the rice while mixing by having someone fan it if feasible.

Making the rice takes the longest, and can be done like 30 min ahead of time. You want the rice a little warm (like lukewarm) or room temperature when you get ready to roll. Refrigerating probably wouldn’t be a good idea, so if you want to make it again the next night, make more rice, rice is cheap.

We made rice with 3 cups rice and 4 cups water, and it came out not quite soft enough, though it was easier to work with this way. Using 4 1/2 to 5 probably would have been fine, or I could probably have left it sit in the steamer for a bit longer.


Here’s what we used. You may want to include your favorite veggies, seafood, etc…

Veggies: Cucumber, Tomato, Avocado
Seafood: Fresh salmon, imitation crab stick, shrimp
Other: Cream cheese, Tamago

It’s a good idea to cut up veggies ahead of time, so that they are already in strips. I usually do this while the rice is cooking, and put them in baggies or small bowls. The avocado doesn’t really need to be cut up, just cut it in half, and you can cut slices out with a spreading knife when the time comes.

The salmon was bought from the Japanese grocery and was specifically marked as “salmon sashimi” meaning that it’s meant to be eaten raw. Buy it the same day or night before for best results.

The Japanese grocery also had crab stick (in the Fish Cake section) whereas the Safeway only had imitation crab in pieces. Either will do, the sticks are nicer for making rolls. The shrimp was cooked, peeled, de-veined etc. The Tamago (egg souffle) was pre-made – I’m sure there are recipes for this if you want to make your own tamago ahead of time.

It’s a good idea to make wasabi at this time. Start with a powder and add enough cold water to make a paste, stir the paste a bit until it looks smooth or your eyes start to burn. Don’t start with hot water or you will not be able to get close enough to stir without your eyes bleeding.

We didn’t have other ingredients, but probably could have had green onion, shiitake mushroom, eel, other types of cooked seafood, etc. The more people you have, the more variety you will want.


I had things arranged so that the work surface was large enough to fit the sushi rolling mat comfortably, and had the following close at hand: sushi rolling mat, bowl of rice, bowl of water for dipping hands into, a clean, dry towel or two, small cutting board for ingredients, seaweed (nori) wraps, and a plate for the finished rolls.

For the nori (seaweed) I usually cut these in half, which is enough to make a small roll or a slightly-larger inside-out roll. A whole nori sheet is probably too big for a normal-sized roll, but when you’re just getting started, you may want to start with 2/3 sheet at first and work your way down to 1/2. To make inside-out rolls you will need to cover the sushi rolling mat with saran wrap first (this is a good idea anyway, because it’s hard to clean rice and cream cheese off of the bamboo mat itself.)

It’s important to be aware of whether your hands are wet or dry for certain steps. Dry hands are good for handling seaweed, but they stick to rice. Wet hands are good for handling rice, but they stick to seaweed.

Making a normal roll: Put down one half-sheet of nori, shiny side down, on the rolling mat, making sure everything is dry. Hold it with one hand (the dry hand) and get your other hand wet so you can pick up a bit of rice. Spread the rice over the nori and push down to make an even layer, covering almost the whole sheet, leaving a little nori bare at the top (side away from you). If you need to grab another handful of rice, get your hand wet again. Put ingredients on top of the rice in a side-to-side strip, roughly in the middle of the rice. If you have soft ingredients like avocado or cream cheese, it’s best to get these down first so that you can use the more solid ingredients like cucumber to push down when closing up the roll.

Start to close the roll by bringing up the mat at the edge close to you. The edge of the nori should be even with the edge of the mat. Bring the edge over the top, making sure the ingredients stay inside, and bring it down slowly to cover the other side. Right before closing, get the free edge of the nori a little bit wet, then use the edge of the mat to compress the food toward you so it will actually close. Finally, bring the leading edge down onto the moistened nori edge to close. Use the mat to roll the roll forward, pulling the edge of the mat away from you so it doesn’t get into the roll, and then down to compress the roll a bit more. You should end up with a nice round shape; if not, roll it up inside the mat again and gently squeeze. If the ends don’t meet up and close completely, don’t panic; as long as it’s mostly round you’re probably OK. Set it aside on a plate to be cut up.

For inside-out rolls (“white rolls”) start with the same process for rice, this time covering the whole nori (no need to leave an edge). Then when it is coated evenly, pick it up and flip it over so the rice is on the bottom. Then load the ingredients on top on the empty side of the nori. Roll it the same as above, trying to overlap the ends a bit. No need to moisten, the rice on the outside will stick to the inside of the nori. Roll the mat up completely and compress lightly to get a round shape, then unroll and set aside. (You did remember to cover the mat with saran wrap, yes? :)

Cut and serve

Once you have a couple rolls made, cut them up and serve them. To cut, use a really sharp knife, and get the knife wet before each cut. I usually cut the roll in half, and then match up the cut ends and cut pieces off of that. Cut six or eight pieces total, depending on your taste Arrange the pieces cut-side up on a tray. Serve with wasabi and pickled ginger.

If you are making a lot, you can do the rolling and have an assistant cutting them up. The person doing the cutting and serving can also help hand you ingredients, take orders, etc.

This document doesn’t cover how to make nigiri-style sushi (rice balls with food on top) but there are probably documents out there to cover that. The important part there is keeping your hands wet and compressing the rice well so that it doesn’t fall apart later. I didn’t cover hand-rolls either, that is where you load the food to the left of the nori and roll it side-to-side into a cone.

Have fun!

0 thoughts on “Home-made sushi

  1. esmerel

    mmm sushi

    Sounds like you had a lot of fun. :)

    Ninja market (nijiya, really, but it looks like ninja if you read it fast) – has sushi-quality fish of many different types. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. :)

    1. nekodojo

      There’s a fair amount of sushi that you can have while still avoiding raw meat… there are a lot of rolls with cooked meat or vegetarian rolls. Going in for just vegetarian items is a “safe” way to start. (Though it’s possible you won’t develop a taste for it, it can’t hurt to try :)

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